2014 was the year of the British twitter reaction. We are aware that many consider this to be a dubious honour to bestow on any year. You see, we bear some responsibility for this phenomenon. We published the first ever British twitter reaction back on June 7th last year, following the extremely one-sided Kilkenny and Offaly Leinster championship match. It was a post idea that we thought might interest people. This proved to be correct.
The traffic on the post was simply extraordinary. It remains the most popular post in the history of the site. By some distance. Every other online publication quickly followed suit in an effort to capitalise on the Irish public’s insatiable desire for finding out what British folk thought of hurling.
Quite what this says about the Irish people and their desire for external validation (particularly from English people), we’ll leave up to others to decide.
The inevitable and very understandable backlash to this phenomenon kicked in shortly afterwards. Many publications, including this one, took flak for continually compiling BTR’s in the wake of GAA matches that were broadcast on Sky. A sizeable proportion of the population grew to hate the BTR’s and were not shy about saying so. However, the haters, no matter how numerous, did not seem to put much of a dent in the traffic on these posts. Clearly, the Irish public did not hate the British Twitter reaction so much that it discouraged them from clicking into it.
Our man in the Guardian, Barry Glendenning (or one of them, at least) tried again to push hurling, and in particular, Henry Shefflin, on the British public today.
He wrote of the Irish embrace of British sports, our current proficiency in both rugby and golf, our gamey and surprisingly successful cricket team and the nation's 'obsession' with Premier League.
However, it is clear that in spite of the admiring/bemused comments on social media that brightened up last summer, the British public still regarded hurling as an exotic curiosity, like one of those sports that used to be featured on Transworld Sport on Channel 4 on a Saturday morning. Perhaps sandwiched between Calcio Fiorentino and Swedish wife carrying.
Glendenning described Shefflin as a 'mild-mannered colossus' who is 'considered to be the greatest player in the history of his sport'.
The Offaly man saved his most glowing comparison for the final paragraph.
As prolific, talented, dogged and determined on the field as he is quiet, unassuming and humble off it, you could perhaps liken him to Lionel Messi ... except without the wealth or global recognition.
We're not sure how his attempts to sell hurling to the British public went down. It is perhaps to early to tell, although judging from the names in the comments section, it seems to have excited Irish people more than anything else.
Read the article here.